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MIDDLE EAST

Beijing urged to give more support to Palestinians by envoy

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 November, 2012, 3:14am

A Palestinian envoy said yesterday that he hoped China would play a greater role in supporting his people in their conflict with Israel as a counterweight to the United States' influence over the peace process.

Bassam al-Salhi's visit to Beijing came as Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian man and wounded nine along Gaza's border fence with Israel - the first reported violence since a truce between Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers took hold a day before.

The shooting appeared to be an isolated incident and was unlikely to jeopardise the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire, which called for an end to Gaza rocket fire on Israel and Israeli airstrikes on Gaza.

The man killed yesterday was part of a group of people who approached Israel's border fence with Gaza to pick up parts of an Israeli army jeep damaged in the fighting, said a Gaza health official. There was no immediate reaction from the Gaza Strip's Hamas leadership, which has previously urged Palestinians to respect the ceasefire terms.

Salhi said in Beijing following a meeting with Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi that China said it backed the Palestinians in the Gaza conflict and in their bid to upgrade their status at the United Nations.

He said Beijing was giving them US$1 million in aid.

But Salhi said Beijing could still do more for the Palestinians.

"We think that China should, can take more [of a] role in the area, to support ending the occupation and have the peace process more balanced, because we think the Israelis are using all the time the position of the United States, which is supporting the Israelis," he said.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said that Yang told Salhi that Beijing hoped that all sides would maintain their commitment to the ceasefire.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas wants China's help in pressing for an upgrade in the Palestinians' UN status from permanent observer to nonmember observer, which could boost their chances of joining additional UN bodies such as the International Criminal Court, where they could attempt to prosecute Israel.

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